Saudi Arabia Telecommunications Report – mobile subscriptions declined to 48.4mn in Q216

We maintain the view that Saudi Arabian telecommunications consumers exhibit strong demand for higher speed data services in the wireless and wireline segments. Despite this, the mobile market has already reached saturation point and displays classic signs of slowing down with penetration rates around 160%. Based on a decline of over 2.5mn subscribers in Q216 alone, we believe the market harbours a significant number of inactive accounts which are being discounted. However, we remain optimistic that operators’ investments in enhancing infrastructure capabilities will generate new growth opportunities. Additionally, e-Enterprise solutions are becoming a main pillar for the leading operators, with new datacentres and business solutions popping up regularly. Still, overall competition is keeping ARPU down and infrastructure development in a country as vast as Saudi Arabia is expensive. While investing heavily into their fibre backbones, operators are therefore looking to improve the efficiency of their infrastructure and are aiming to outsource towers.

Latest Updates & Industry Developments

– Latest market data suggest that mobile subscriptions declined to 48.4mn in Q216 after 2.5mn subscribers were lost in the second quarter of 2016. This follows after 1.9mn subscribers were shed in Q116. These losses suggest a significant number of inactive prepaid accounts have been shed by operators and this trend could continue in the future as the penetration rate hovers around the 160% mark. We estimate only modest organic growth prospects in terms of subscriber numbers out to 2020 as our estimates suggest the mobile market will grow to around 52.7mn by end of our current forecast period.

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